back to school lunchbox ideas

guest blogger: azmina govindji rd, consultant nutritionist & award-winning dietitian

hi, i’m azmina and i’ve been popping for the last few months in my role as the uk nutritionist for popchips. my work is very varied  – i could be conjuring up culinary delights using the latest herbs and spices one day, talking to a journalist about some crazy fad diet the next, and then i might be off on a plane to speak at an international health conference.

for me it’s important to maintain a healthy lifestyle while i cope with all the pressures of work and family life (i have two kids, run my own business and lead a global nutrition website committee in my spare time…).

i believe there’s a place for every food and that you can enjoy the tastiest snacks as part of a healthy balanced routine, no matter how busy you are. this month, i’m concentrating on school lunches.

lunchtime is an opportunity to give your kids an energy boosting and healthy meal that will keep them going till they get home. one of the best ways to start children off with a balanced attitude to food is to involve them in the shopping experience and in the preparation of their meals.

here are a few basics for healthier lunchboxes:

  1. let’s start with the carbs. ask your child to choose from a variety of breads – like wholegrain, granary, or white breads enriched with fibre or seeds.
  2. then think about a protein for the filling – try eggs, low fat soft cheese, turkey or chicken breast slices, canned tuna or salmon.
  3. ensure you make the most of the juicy and colourful fruits and veggies on offer. you could pop a few seedless grapes or a chunk of cucumber into their lunch box. mix some sweet corn with a tuna sandwich filling.
  4. a lunchbox that only has super-healthy foods in it risks being too boring to be eaten, so when you’ve got the basis of your lunchbox right, you could on occasions include a lower calorie treat, like popchips or a couple of jaffa cakes.
  5. remember that fluid is needed to avoid dehydration and it can help your child to concentrate at school. so add some water, diluted squash or a small serving of unsweetened fruit juice.
  6. add a portion of dairy food. this can be a slice of cheese about the size of a small matchbox, or a pot of yogurt. dairy foods provide calcium, which is especially important for children because it helps them to grow strong bones. choose lower fat varieties to help cut down on saturated fats.

taking a little time to plan and prepare those lunchboxes could help your child focus at school and be less tired at the end of the day. until next time…happy popping!

azmina  is a mum with a passion for good food, fun and friendship. underneath that softer side lies a busy professional – she’s an award-winning registered dietitian and nutritionist, known in the uk for her no-nonsense simple tips and realistic outlook on healthy lifestyles. she is a national media spokesperson for the british dietetic association (so the press like her) and was itv’s this morning nutritionist from 2006 to 2007 and has appeared on bbc’s the one show, watchdog and the wright stuff: she now works as a consultant nutritionist to itv’s lorraine show and as an expert for various food companies and organisations.azmina has written over a dozen books including the best-selling gi plan, the hot body plan, diabetes uk’s the diabetes weight loss diet, and weight watcher’s millennium cookbook. her lively personality and down-to-earth approach help her to communicate scientific dietary principles using everyday practical language. she believes that healthy food can be tasty and is on a mission to help spread this philosophy. find azmina here: facebook, twitter, website.

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